What I Learned About Email While on Vacation

Yellowstone_August2015_12_copyThe Epic Montana Adventure

Our 2015 summer vacation took four of us through the wilds of western Montana. We camped in the southern reaches of the Bitterroot Valley before traversing deep into the Ruby River outback. We enjoyed Yellowstone National Park next. Our return path took us through Bozeman before heading north back to Whitefish.
Internet connectivity was sporadic throughout the trip, with the longest disconnection occurring for 72 hours. Valuable lessons were learned about our connected lives.

Observations on Modern Connected Lifestyles

[…]

Two Flavors of Email – Open & Closed

EmailMedicKitEmail use continues its upward climb. The Radicati Group recently reported that email is growing at five percent per year and will to do so through 2019. Though growth is slowing, the existing volume makes any increase problematic.

Sorting through email takes a lot of time each day, and keeping track of what needs our attention is overwhelming. What if there was a quick and easy way to decide what to do with every email? […]

A Baker’s Dozen on Traveling Productively

HappyAirTravelerEasy Ways to Make Business Travel Better

Traveling for business is often a consequence of career success. Making the experience comfortable and productive can be challenging. Ten years of traveling has taught this road warrior a few tricks for achieving that result.
Best Gear
Here are some arrows for the business travel quiver.
  • Duplicate Toiletries Kit. Investing and maintaining a travel-only toiletries kit ensures that everything needed is present. The investment is minimal and the return is high during the packing and the traveling stages.
  • Noise Canceling Headphones. Jet roar leaves ears ringing and who knows the long term consequences. Get a set of noise canceling headphone or ear buds. Consider the Audio Technica QuietPoint. They’re super compact, 90% as good as the comparable Bose set, and only $43.
  • Dual Port Mobile Charger. Charging gear is a necessity. Carry a dual port charger so one outlet can do the work of two. Make sure both ports are 24W/4.8A so it charges all mobile devices. Check out iClever’s for a good example.
  • Phablet & Mini Laptop. Trying to work on a tablet is inefficient. Better to invest in the right tools for the job. A phablet plus a mini laptop ensures content can be consumed (phablet) and hardcore work can be performed (laptop) in a lightweight combo. Examples are the iPhone 6 Plus and a Macbook Air 13.
Best Services
The travel industry is full of service providers to ease the traverse from Point A to Point B.
  • TSA Pre[check]. Schedule an appointment at the local TSA office to secure the Pre[check] designation. Getting through airport security hasn’t been this easy since the 80s!
  • Airport Lounges. Get away from the frenetic activity in the airport via an airport lounge. The lounges are quiet and comfortable. Most offer refreshments and all have electrical outlets. The lounges are generally run by the airlines and require daily or annual membership. However, they partner with each other, so one membership can often be used in many different airports. Moreover some credit cards, like the American Express Platinum, provide access to most lounges around the world.
  • Loyalty Programs. The travel industry is littered with loyalty programs. The credit card industry only adds to the confusion of which programs are best. Study them to determine which works best in your scenario. The author is a Starwood member for hotels (Westin, Sheraton, etc.) and Alaska Airlines member (who partners with Delta and American). The end-game is free stuff and status. Hey, if travel is a must, it might as well come with some perks!
  • Ride Sharing. The taxi industry should’ve seen this coming, but it took an outsider (Uber) to connect the GPS on our mobile devices with the need for a ride. Regardless of whether it’s a true ride sharing business – Uber, Lyft, Sidecar – or the racing-to-catch up traditionalists – Carmel, Curb, Easy Taxi – the on-demand livery experience beats standing in the rain waiting for the cab you called 30 minutes ago!
Best Practices
Here are some “shoulda known that” suggestions for making road life easier.
  • Mobile Checkin. Save a tree and never print another boarding pass. Download the major airline apps – all free – and checkin via the phone before heading to the airport. It makes moving through security and boarding soooo much easier.
  • Two Hours in Advance. Head to the airport at least two hours in advance of flight time. Traffic, TSA lines and sundry other delays can absorb a lot of time. It’s better to have thirty quiet pre-boarding minutes than it is to sprint through the concourse hoping to catch the plane.
  • Hotel Rules. Three quick rules to use in the hotel –
    • High Floor Away From Elevators. Street noise and people passing by the hotel room door can be noisy. Avoid both problems by requesting a high floor away from the elevator.
    • DND Sign Out. Always put the do not disturb sign out. It reminds passersby that someone is in the room, encouraging them remain quiet.
    • Hotel Alarm Off. ALWAYS confirm that the hotel alarm clock is “off.” It’s amazing how many people (1) still use them and (2) fail to turn them off after use.
If Travel is Required, Travel Well
Business travel is never the luxurious experience the marketers promote. Employing a few of these tricks can make it easier and more productive.

[…]

Simple Stand-Up Desk Solution

StandUPJoin the revolution – be healthier and more productive.

My Personal Experience

Everyone’s heard about stand-up desks. “Get Off Your Rear!” is the true believer’s battle cry. The pitch is that sitting all day is unhealthy and unproductive, so Stand Up.

Much to my skeptical self’s surprise, I have joined their ranks. I purchased my first stand-up apparatus a year ago and haven’t looked back. To the contrary, I have pursued refinement of my standing workspace accoutrement with a vigor normally reserved for mobile technology!

What’s the Difference?

I have no explanation for why it’s so much better to stand than sit. My guess is that standing forces me to remain vigilant at a cellular level lest I fall down. The increased awareness translates to a better working environment. Plus, shifting weight and moving back and forth definitely makes the blood flow stronger. […]

Mini-Monk Mode Sharpens Focus And Increases Productivity

Short Bursts of Quiet In his book “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,” Greg McKeown refers to getting focused as being in the “Monk Mode.” The benefit to the Monk Mode is greater and higher quality work product. Given our time-starved world, it might be more effective to find Mini-Monk Modes throughout our day. Here[…]

Five Killer Note Taking Abbreviations

Action-Oriented Note Taking Taking notes is a good way to capture and digest the content of a meeting. It also increases focus on the subject matter at hand, as the notes preserve the salient points. Here is a list of abbreviations for use when taking notes to make them even more productive: A is an[…]

Get More Done Through Better Capture – Part 1

Odd-LotMore Technology but Less Productivity

The irony of the modern world is that we have more tools and information at our disposal than ever before, but we’re getting less and less done. Sure, there’s a lot more activity, but it’s productivity that matters – advancing the cause, moving the ball down the proverbial field.

There are many reasons for this and possibly as many suggestions for solving the problem. We’re going to focus on making one small slice of time – odd-lot time – more productive.

Making Odd-Lot Time Productive

Examples of odd-lot time include

  • those minutes between when the meeting was scheduled to start and when it actually starts,
  • the small (or large) slice of time commuting, and
  • that brief period on the plane when everyone else is still finding their seats.

[…]

Get More Done Through Better Communication – Part 1

UsedCarBuying a Car Sucks

Buying a car ranks high on the list things we dislike doing. There are dozens of makes and models, option lists are daunting, and haggling with the dealership is a nightmare. In spite of this, we spend a tremendous amount of time and energy pursing the best decision about the choices before us.

However, we spend very little time choosing what vehicle we’ll use to communicate. Today’s defacto vehicle is email, regardless of how effective it is. Consider the following alternatives the next time you need to communicate with someone: […]